Freddie Prinze Jr. might return to the I Know What You Did Last Summer universe, which is a miracle when you consider that the original film almost made him quit acting altogether. The actor has spoken previously about the near-death experience he had on the set of the slasher, and now he’s opening up further about the fraught relationship he had with the film’s director, Jim Gillespie.
Speaking with TooFab, Prinze Jr. says Gillespie “was very direct in the fact that, ‘I don’t want you in this movie,’” allegedly having preferred Jeremy Sisto for the role. (Gillespie, on the other hand, claimed in 2017 that he fought to cast Prinze Jr. against the studio’s wishes.) “So when that’s your first job and you hear those words, it just wrecks you, man. It just wrecks you,” Prinze Jr. reflects.
The director apparently gave him “psychotic notes” like “Don’t leave your mouth open. You look stupid when you do that,” which made Prinze Jr. think that “I’m either gonna break down or I have to beat this guy’s ass. Like those were the only two options in my head.” Co-star Ryan Phillippe tried to reassure him that he “earned” the role, but the young rising star was nevertheless discouraged: “It was very difficult waking up in the morning—or in the afternoon, because we shot a lot of nights—and go to work with the right attitude.”
As an adult, Prinze Jr. can be objective about the situation. “I’m sure he’s a hero in someone else’s story,” he says of Gillespie. “I’m sure he helped someone else out and they loved him. But for me, he took a lot of frustration out on me. He was a first-time director, he didn’t have a lot of time, he didn’t have the budget he wanted, he didn’t have the actor he wanted, and he didn’t know how to deal with that frustration.”
And he’s able to see a silver lining within a terrible experience. “I’m not upset because that movie launched my whole career. I wouldn’t have any of the things I have without that movie. I wouldn’t have my wife [IKWYDLS co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar], I wouldn’t have all the other movies I’ve done.” Plus, “it prepared me for this business in a way,” he says. “I’m forever grateful to Jim for being such an asshole because I’ve never met one like that since…no other director I’ve met felt crossing those lines would be OK. I’ve been prepared for every lesser A-hole in the business.”